Actress and popstar Selena Gomez opened up recently about her lifelong journey with God at last year's Hillsong Conference in Los Angeles, attended by thousands of people.
She surprised worshippers at the concert with a performance of her song "Nobody", which alludes to how no one can love her like God does and is included in her Revival album.
The 25-year-old singer also shared her testimony in the form of a letter, which details her life from a child until now.
"You already have faith, but you have no idea what you have faith in," Selena says of her 15 year old self. "You are already being pursued by God who knit you together and called you His, but you still do not know that this can be more than a nightly prayer, you do not know that this will become the most important relationship."
Selena was born to teenage parents in Texas and suffered emotionally as a child. She blamed her mother for her parents' separation when she was five years old. Without her dad, the family struggled financially. They scrounged up quarters to put petrol in the car and frequently fed on spaghetti from the Dollar Store.
"I was frustrated that my parents weren't together and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me," she shares. "My mom was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. She gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me and sacrificed her life for me."
Selena got her start in acting with a childhood role as Gianna on Barney and Friends. Later, she landed the starring role of Alex Russo on the Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place from 2007-12. She was following in the footsteps of fellow Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, who kept squeaky clean images as Disney teens only to go off the rails when they branched out on their own.
Selena too seemed to be falling into the post-Disney struggles. She cultivated a sultry songstress image and ran with the Hollywood A-listers, including BFF Taylor Swift. Song after song topped the charts, and she became the girlfriend of a troubled Justin Bieber for a year, only to stumble through another year of on-and-off-again rumours.
Selena admits that her life in Hollywood was confusing and painful.
"I lived out my mistakes in front of the world, I was picked apart completely," she shares tearfully. "I wish I could tell you that it goes away, but it just gets bigger and bigger and you start feeling smaller and smaller."
Selena sought for peace and security to fill the void in her heart.
"I would show up and give my heart, my every last ounce of energy on stage," she says. "I would think that these loud screams from thousands of people will be the very thing that saves me ... but it wasn't."
In 2015, Selena was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, Lupus. She received chemotherapy to treat it and in August 2016, shrank from the spotlight due to symptoms associated with the disease.
In the summer of 2017, Selena underwent a kidney transplant, a kidney being donated to her by her good friend, actress Francia Raisa.
"There aren't the words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend," Selena captioned an Instagram post of her and Francia recovering from surgery, holding hands in side-by-side hospital beds. "She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice ... I am incredibly blessed."
Selena ended her post with the phrase, "Grace through faith" which is a reference to Ephesians 2:8, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."
grace”When she was 23, her fame growing, Selena shared that she was "sitting in a church service and everything within me just shifted."
"The God that had been pursuing me all along felt tangible," she states. "The Holy Spirit spoke louder than anything that has called for my attention.
"On my 23rd birthday, Jesus became real to me. He was more than a nightly prayer, more than the strength of friends, more than the Name in a devotional, He became real.
"I am a Christian," the 25-year-old states unabashedly in a YouTube interview.
Selena has gone through many ups and downs in her life and experienced pain and heartbreak, but her bold declaration of faith in Jesus has set the course for the well-known model and singer to begin a new path in life.
"Selena, you are enough!" she concludes her testimony. "Not because you have tried hard, not because you have loved hard or put on your best face. Not because you have been given a large platform and not because others tell you 'you are enough'. You are enough because you are a child of God who has been pursued from the very beginning. You are enough because His grace [undeserved love] has saved you and covered you."•